Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa

written by Jen Stevenson

Per the principles of true Oregon hospitality, the hardbound Kaufmann Mercantile Guide sitting on the coffee table just inside the lobby of the new Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa promises to teach guests, “How to Split Wood, Shuck an Oyster and Master Other Simple Pleasures.”

Sinking into one of the locally built beach chairs on your sea-facing balcony moments later, Pendleton wool blanket at the ready should a brisk ocean breeze kick up, you’ve already mastered the simplest of Oregon Coast pleasures—savoring your unparalleled proximity to the Pacific Ocean’s rolling dunes, rugged cliffs and wind-whipped surf, all mere yards away. Oysters? Sure, you could shuck them yourself, but may as well head down to the lodge’s bar and order a dozen or two, fresh from nearby Nestucca Bay, with a bottle of Willamette Valley bubbles. As for the wood splitting, there’s really no need—come sundown, the staff is happy to build a blazing beach bonfire at your request, s’mores included, of course.

Having enjoyed great success with past projects like Pelican Brewing Company and the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, lodge owners and community pillars Mary Jones and Jeff Schons now aim to put Pacific City—a mere two hours southwest of Portland—on the West Coast’s luxury destination map, pairing high-end amenities and service with Oregon’s relaxed, affable attitude. And so, in lieu of a traditional concierge, Headlands employs a team of in-the-know “adventure coaches” to help guests hitch a ride on a dory fishing boat, surf or SUP the day away, hit the hiking and biking trails, horseback ride along the surf’s edge, whale watch, kayak the Nestucca River or dig for clams in nearby Nestucca Bay.

Of course, upon discovery of the lodge’s full-service spa, you run the risk of never actually leaving the premises—greet the day with a beach yoga or meditation class, indulge in a relaxing massage or facial, live stream a spin class on a Peloton bike, then settle in for a hot soak in the outdoor hot tub with full views of the incoming tide. After an “ocean-to-table” supper at on-site Meridian restaurant, collect a steaming mug of hot cocoa and stargaze by the bonfire while plotting the next day’s adventures.


There’s no such thing as a room without a view here—each of the thirty-three oceanfront guestrooms face west toward the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, ensuring million-dollar views and sunsets. Enjoy them with a pint of nearby Pelican Brewing Company’s Kiwanda Cream Ale or Tsunami Stout on your private balcony, or in the case of an authentic Oregon Coast tempest, in front of the room’s glowing gas fireplace. If you’ve got the family or a flock of friends in tow, book one of the property’s eighteen two- or three-bedroom luxury cottages, which share the same stellar views and service as the main lodge, plus a full gourmet kitchen, gas-grill-furnished patio and washer and dryer.


Pacific City may be small (as in, population 1,035), but it’s mighty, and there’s always plenty to do, no matter where your interests lie. Have the lodge’s “adventure coach” design a jam-packed day of outdoor activities, book a spa day or just stake your claim to the perfect patch of sand and re-read Moby Dick. Or hit the road—the 40-mile Three Capes Scenic Loop hails to the north, while the 484-acre Bob Straub State Park and Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge are a quick drive (or beautiful stroll along the shoreline) to the south. Fun fact, particularly for avid bird watchers: Pacific City is the world’s only wintering spot for Alaska’s Semidi Islands Aleutian cackling geese, and every evening during their visit, they make the flight from Nestucca Bay’s lush meadows to Haystack Rock to roost.


Pulling from the local catch, farms and ranches, as well as Headlands’ on-site herb garden, Meridian executive chef Andrew Garrison serves a hyper-seasonal menu of stunning dishes like silky scallops with Oregon black truffles, roasted sunchokes and pomegranate, and local duck with braised greens and watermelon radish in a rich, smoky, bergamot-infused broth—all enjoyed against a breathtaking beachfront backdrop. For casual eats and plenty of Oregon craft beer, it’s but a few paces south to cheery Pelican Brewing Company, where locals and roadtrippers alike commune over brewpub burgers and bowls of Dungeness crab mac ‘n’ cheese.


Luxuries large and small abound, from Frette robes and Pendleton throws, to bluetooth speakers and in-room iPads, to Bonavita coffee makers and Steven Smith tea service. Each room’s entryway sports both surfboard and bike racks, and every floor has a fully stocked honor-system “pantry” with Pacific-Northwest-sourced snacks like GoofyFoot’s Sriracha pretzels and Alma Chocolate’s Thai peanut butter bar—so you won’t go hungry on that hike up Cape Kiwanda’s famous 240-foot sand dune.

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